Description: body moderately deep (Ref. 52307, 53405) and compressed (Ref. 53405). Head and mouth large (Ref. 52307). Snout rounded, its dorsal profile straight or slightly convex; outer and inner jaw teeth monocuspid, pharyngeal jaw teeth bicuspid; 3 scale rows on cheeks; micro-gillrakers present; scales cycloid (Ref. 53405). Caudal fin slightly rounded (Ref. 52307).
Coloration: in life: light to dark brown on back, light brown on sides; belly orange-brown, throat somewhat lighter, both fins reddish during the reproduction period (Ref. 53405). Sides with 5-6 faint cross bars (Ref. 52307, 53405) depending on behavioural state (Ref. 52307). Dorsal fin orange anteriorly, lighter posteriorly, with dark orange fringe and whitish submarginal band; caudal fin light, with narrow, white fringe and narrow, light orange submarginal band; pelvics and anal fin yellow-orange; pectorals hyaline (Ref. 53405). Some body scales with iridescent margins; red and blue dots and short bars often visible on caudal and soft dorsal and anal fins; relatively large "pelmatochromis"-spot present on dorsum in both juveniles and adults, often reaching onto dorsal fin in juveniles but in a lower position in adults (Ref. 52307).